Rare Colorado state fish gets new home just steps from where species was discovered


Greenback cutthroat trout

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – You probably have no idea what the state fish of Colorado is, but if anyone ever asks now you’ll know it’s called the greenback cutthroat trout.

It is native to Colorado’s South Platte River basin. By the 1930s the fish was thought to be extinct.

In the 1950s the greenback cutthroat trout began to reappear in Colorado’s waterways. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, massive conservation efforts launched to help them repopulate.

It turns out most of the fish were imposters. Genetic testing revealed they were not a pure species of greenback cutthroat trout like the ones from the early 20th century.

The pure species can only be found in one spot on earth – Bear Creek, a small stream in Colorado Springs.

“This is a very important population tat we have here in Bear Creek and we’re using them to repopulate throughout the state,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist Cory Noble told FOX31.

Since 2010, CPW has been breeding the greenback cutthroat trout at hatcheries around the state. They have already reintroduced them into four different waterways around the state including small creeks along I-70 and Zimmerman Lake near Cameron Pass.

“We’re actively working to put them out in new creeks throughout the state,” Noble said.

On Thursday, 14 of the fish born at the hatchery were transferred to an aquarium at the Bear Creek Nature Center, just steps from where their ancestors defied the odds.

“It’s amazing to have an endangered or threatened species here on public display,” Noble said.

He believes it is important to save the cutthroat greenback trout because they are a part of Colorado’s heritage and he says they belong in its future too.

“They are in retirement,” he said of the newly transported fish. “So they will be ambassadors to thousands of children who come here to the nature center.”

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